Dear Lowell Families,
With Mayor Bowser’s announcement on March 20 extending school closure until April 27, and her order yesterday afternoon for residents to stay at home, it probably comes as no surprise that I write today to inform you that Lowell’s campus will remain closed until April 27.
I share this news with mixed emotions, and perhaps you receive it in the same manner. Three weeks ago, when I wrote you announcing the closure of campus, I imagined that we would be back by mid-April. To know that we will not be is disappointing and frustrating. I am deeply concerned about the health of our global and national community, and I miss your children. I miss my colleagues. I want to see spring in bloom on campus. I feel for you trying to work and support your children’s learning in ways you never thought you would be called on to execute. I feel for many of our faculty and staff who are doing the same with their own work and their own children.
And yet, my sadness is counterbalanced by the growth and blooming that is happening. We are all, adults and children, stretching in some way. Our teachers reimagined the concept of a Lowell education in two days and delivered a remote educational program for their students! We are all growing in our ability to live with resilience and channel our inner resourcefulness. Our students have embraced remote learning with enthusiasm and engagement. Who knew we were capable of rising to such challenges? As we continue to face this crisis, there is no other community with which I would rather be connected.
My approach throughout this crisis has been to make decisions with intention and thought, the hallmark of how Lowell educators approach education. I remain connected to other heads of school nationally and locally through weekly meetings sponsored by AISGW (Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington) and NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools). I am communicating with our Board of Trustees. We continue to rely on the advice of the WHO, CDC, and local health officials. Knowing that we will be away from each other for the next month at least, our first order of business is to turn to what April will look like.
By design, the remote learning plan we have in place for Pre-Primary through Middle School is informed by our knowledge and understanding of childhood development, our attention to research and best practices, our commitment to equity, and our awareness of accessibility in families where everyone is online but not everyone has internet or 1:1 device access in the house.
We made a conscious decision to start simply and safely with remote teaching, moving slowly into live—otherwise known as “synchronous”—learning. Our goal with this iterative process is to have a system that is sustainable over time for everyone involved. We recognize that reflection and revision of instruction delivery are critical, just as it is when teachers and students are in a classroom together.
Division directors spent part of their spring break considering the results of the survey that you, our faculty, and our staff completed. They are working with faculty this week to apply some of the feedback. Our goal is to begin implementing synchronous learning in developmentally appropriate ways no later than next week, and we will continue to reflect and adjust the remote learning model as necessary. Knowing what you feel is going well or not going well will help us continue to develop and refine teaching across all grade levels. We will continue to ask for your survey feedback, with the next one coming to you via next week's edition of The Loop. We are sensitive to survey fatigue; at the same time, your voice is critical to the continuing evolution of our plan.
We are thinking deeply about ways that we can facilitate support of the broader community at various levels. To start, our technology office will be sending out a communication offering a weekly Zoom chat regarding online learning at Lowell for any parent or caregiver who needs assistance or has questions.
I also shared with you in my last communication that we are exploring ways to help facilitate a support group of Lowell families impacted by the virus. We are actively investigating other ideas and will let you know about them as they become fully developed.
While we are extending remote learning through April 27, we are well aware, based on past experience, that this may need to be further extended into May. Given this possibility, I have asked the teachers to prepare for the continuation of remote learning to the end of the school year with the caveat that if circumstances appreciably improve and it is advised, we will consider returning to onsite learning sooner. Please continue to use our coronavirus webpage
as your vehicle for receiving the most updated information regarding our remote learning plan and other information.
I want to acknowledge the students who are wondering about the spring events that are significant Lowell milestones in their lives. In particular, I want to speak directly to the disappointment our 8th graders are feeling with the disruption of events. We want to do everything we can to bring their final year at Lowell to a meaningful culmination with all the fanfare they deserve. We will continue to keep you updated as we make plans for recognizing their achievements.
I am a huge Winnie the Pooh fan. I am comforted by his eternal optimism and observations of his friends and the world around him. Recently, when I begin to feel frustrated or overwhelmed, I hear a famous Winnie the Pooh quote in my head. I offer it to you in closing as we return to remote learning from spring break:
“You are braver than you believe,
Smarter than you seem,
And stronger than you think.”
Missing you all,